Labor Day feast: Where to pick your own berries, tomatoes, herbs

By Evan Kleiman

Girls pick strawberries at Tanaka Farms in Irvine, California. Photo by Tanaka Farms.

In the spirit of Labor Day, let’s spend a few hours picking our own fruit or veg. It’s a great way to be in the outdoors, connecting with people who grow our food locally. Because harvest schedules are so unpredictable, it’s imperative to call first and find out what is available when. Remember to bring water, hats, and sunscreen. Leave your dogs at home.

Berry Harvest is still happening at Los Rios Rancho in Oak Glen. September will bring You Pick Apples and the opportunity to press your own cider. Check out their ever evolving schedule.

McGrath Family Farms is known for their extraordinary educational programs and delicious strawberries. And they’re right on the coast. Right now you can go to the store in Camarillo any day except Monday (when they’re closed) to pick strawberries and/or tomatoes. There is a $10 entry fee to the fields, plus $6.50 per pound for strawberries, and $5 per pound for tomatoes.

You can pick tomatoes when they are in season at McGrath Family Farms in Camarillo, California. Photo by McGrath Family Farms.

Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark is always abuzz with opportunities to interact with farm life. They have the most robust opportunities to get in the fields and pick your own. You need to check their schedule to confirm what is available, but as of this writing, the list includes berries, all kinds of squash, tomatoes, herbs, flowers, and more. This coming weekend you can pick your own Roma tomatoes for sauce making. The pumpkin patch is coming soon.

Tanaka Farms in Irvine also has a constant list of rotating activities depending on the season. After Labor Day weekend, expect U-Pick wagon rides, which include a farm tour with stops at three different fields to pick your own veggies. And of course they have both weekday and weekend opportunities to explore and pick from the pumpkin patch. You must make a reservation and they book up quickly.

Irvine-based Tanaka Farms offer wagon rides that stop at three fields. Photo by Tanaka Farms